NOTE: The General Motors Corvette Assembly Plant is currently closed to the public to prepare machinery to build the latest Corvette Stingray. Public tours are expected to resume sometime during the last quarter of 2013. Keep checking back for updates.
Bowling Green, Ky. - August 2, 2010 — There’s no other place in the world like the General Motors Corvette Assembly Plant in Bowling Green, KY. The one million square foot structure - enough space for 22-football fiends - on 212 acres is just off of I-65 exit 28. The cars that roll off the assembly line actually do make dreams come true.
The Corvettes were moved to Bowling Green from St. Louis in 1981 and since then thousands of visitors have strolled through the one-hour tour and watched America’s favorite sports car slowly emerge. First, the frame and body begin to take shape, then the engine and drive train merge, the windshields are attached, and finally in one of the most interesting phases of the tour, the chassis and body are joined. The completed ‘Vette weighs 3,200 pounds and contains 1,376 parts from 387 different suppliers.
The ZR1 Corvette has an aluminum frame in comparison to the standard coupe and convertible’s steel frame with a weight savings of over 130 pounds. During the manufacturing of the aluminum frame nearly 100% of the aluminum scrap is recycled.
Each new car is run through a water tunnel to test for leaks, revved up on a stationary wheel and monitored on the plant’s latest computerized equipment. And to further add to Corvette’s quality control, three of them are “audited” each morning when they are driven from the line and turned loose on the local roads and streets of Bowling Green for various stages of testing.
Even though there are more than seven miles of conveyors that move the cars and parts in the building, the Corvette is still the star of the show. Once that engine is started and the motor growls, someone’s dream is made. Every Corvette made at the GM Assembly Plant has been custom ordered either by the future owner or a specific dealer.
Production of the Cadillac XLR began in Bowling Green in August 2003 on a totally separate assembly line from the Corvette, but discontinued in 2009 as GM restructured and that model was discontinued. One of the major reasons the XLR was built here is that it shares the same hydro-formed frame as the Corvette. The two-seater luxury roadster also has a fully retractable convertible hardtop.
“The Corvette Plant has always been a big draw for Bowling Green,” offered Vicki Fitch, director of the Bowling Green Area Convention & Visitors Bureau. “And now with tours being offered four times a day, we expect even more visitors to experience the American icon in the works.”
The Assembly Plant was featured on National Geographic Channel’s popular Ultimate Factories series in November 2007 and received the 2002 Kentucky Governor’s Award for Industrial Leadership in Pollution Prevention.
Plant tours are available at 8:30 a.m., 11:30 a.m., 12:45 p.m., and 2 p.m. Central Time, Monday through Thursday, except during model changes and holidays. Tours also are available on certain Fridays when the plant is in production, so calling in advance is recommended. Admission is $7 and children under 7 are not admitted.
A Few Tips
- Reservations can be made by going to http://www.bowlinggreenasssemblyplant.com
- The tour is only offered to groups by reservation, but reservations are recommended for individuals as tours fill up fast and the tour size is limited.
- The walk is long, can get noisy at times and is on concrete, so wear comfortable shoes.
- Special arrangements are made for wheelchairs.
- No cameras, open-toed shoes, backpacks, purses, fanny packs, open containers, weapons of any kind or children under seven allowed in the tour.
- For information, phone 270-745-8287.
- For reservations that cannot be made online, phone 270-796-5063.